Dry Weather Calls for More Watering

Content Image

Content Detail

June 1, 2023

This summer is getting off to an unusually dry start, just at the time when new trees and other plants are trying to recover from transplanting. The Plant Clinic at The Morton Arboretum urges gardeners to water trees and all plants more often than usual for May or early June to help them make it through these tough conditions.

“At this time of year, our yards and gardens are full of newly planted trees and other plants,” said Sharon Yiesla, plant knowledge specialist. “Dry conditions are hard on even established plants, but they are especially difficult for new plants that have not yet grown much of a root system.”

According to the office of the Illinois State Climatologist, northeastern Illinois was much drier than usual in May, and hot, dry weather predicted in early June will make matters worse. Young trees had begun showing signs of drought stress by the end of May.

Rather than watering on a set schedule, Yiesla suggests that you check the garden soil for moisture. Since plants absorb water through their underground roots, the amount of water in the soil is what matters to them. “If you dig down a couple of inches and the soil feels dry, it’s time to water,” Yiesla said. Bear in mind that soil conditions may not be the same in all parts of your yard.

Wilting leaves are a sign of drought stress, but it’s better to keep plants supplied with enough water so they don’t get stressed enough to wilt, said Spencer Campbell, Plant Clinic manager. He noted that containers, vegetable gardens, and newly planted perennials may need watering every couple of days or even more often in hot weather. If you planted trees or shrubs this spring, the Arboretum provides advice on techniques for helping trees and plants survive drought. It’s not just new trees that need your help. “Don’t forget that even big, mature trees need water in dry weather, too,” Campbell said.

Become a Member

When a trip to the Arboretum inspires you to explore more, become a member to visit again and again.

Join now